top of page

The Problem With Super Bowl Ads

By Maxwell Z. Bentley

This year’s Super Bowl, a spectacle watched by a record-breaking 123 million viewers, wasn’t just about the Kansas City Chiefs clinching another victory, Taylor Swift’s publicized romance with the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce, or Usher’s mesmerizing halftime show.

For me, the real game unfolded during the commercial breaks.

As someone who’s spent their life captivated by the power of advertising, the Super Bowl is my annual championship. Beyond the fandom and commentaries, it’s the commercials that turn my living room into a viewing party.

This year, I found myself both cheering and jeering for reasons entirely my own.

I’ve coined the term “celebritymageddon” to describe the increasing reliance on star power in Super Bowl ads—a trend I find both gimmicky and uninspiring.

Celebrities have always had a place in advertising, yet the artistry of commercials should shine beyond the star it features. The essence of a brand’s message risks being overshadowed when its storytelling is anchored solely to celebrity appeal. This strategy feels not only lazy but fraught with the unpredictability of public opinion. In today’s climate, associating your brand so closely with a single figure for a $7 million 30-second spot is a gamble of the highest order.

Yet, in this year’s ad lineup, celebrities were ubiquitous, with more than half the commercials featuring familiar faces from every sphere. While some showcased a harmonious blend of star power and brand message, others felt like missed opportunities.

The SquareSpace ad directed by Martin Scorsese, for instance, was a visual treat that somehow lost the plot, failing to communicate the core offerings of the website builder.

Further, the ad featuring Dan Levy from Schitt’s Creek left me puzzled. While I have immense respect for Levy’s talent and the show’s genius, the ad itself seemed to wander aimlessly, lacking a coherent message. It’s a prime example of how celebrity presence alone isn’t enough to anchor an advertisement.

Instead of a memorable pitch for, viewers were left with a disjointed narrative that struggled to connect back to the brand’s core offering.

Despite my critiques, not all celebrity appearances missed the mark. The Verizon ad with Beyoncé brilliantly leveraged her influence to highlight the brand’s strengths while announcing her new music.

Similarly, State Farm’s pairing of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, as well as e.l.f. Cosmetics’ clever nod with Judge Judy as Judge “Beauty”, demonstrated that celebrities can indeed augment an ad’s impact when used thoughtfully.

However, it was the non-celebrity ads that resonated most profoundly with me. Dove’s campaign to keep young women in sports and Google’s innovative use of technology to aid those with visual impairments stood out for their emotional depth and meaningful messaging—reminding us that at its best, advertising connects on a human level, transcending the need for star-studded lineups.

In an era where celebrities dominate the advertising landscape, it’s essential to remember the power of storytelling and the emotional connection that truly memorable ads forge. As we move forward, let’s challenge ourselves to look beyond the allure of celebrity, focusing instead on crafting messages that resonate, inspire, and endure.

– Maxwell Z. Bentley

Maxwell Z. Bentley is the founder of Bentley Media, an award-winning video marketing studio for brands across the globe. At a very young age, he discovered the power of video by editing a trailer for the Roblox app that went viral on social media with over 100M views. Since then, his Perfect Video Strategy℠ has driven millions in sales for brands like Disney, Hyundai, and Xbox. He frequently shares his expertise on media outlets such as NPR, WSB-TV and ASBN, and was recently named to University of North Georgia's Top 20 Under 40 Alumni.

42 views0 comments


bottom of page